Internship Policy

Responsible Office
The Graduate School - Academic Affairs, Finance and Administration
Lisa M. Schreyer, Deputy Dean of the Graduate School and Scott R. McGoldrick, Senior Associate Dean for Finance and Administration
  1. Policy Statement

    The Internship Policy describes the Graduate School’s policy regarding the participation by enrolled graduate students in off-campus internships. 

  2. Who is Affected by this Policy

    This policy applies to all enrolled Ph.D. students and master’s students, particularly those who desire to participate in off-campus experiences related to their field of study which are beyond the fellowship, teaching, research, or equivalent duties required by full-time graduate student study.

  3. Definitions

    Enrolled Graduate Students
    Enrolled students are active full-time in their program within the defined program length or, for eligible Ph.D. students, within an additional two-year period of enrollment to complete their dissertation. Enrolled graduate students must complete sign-in at the start of each term. Enrolled statuses include regular enrollment, in absentia enrollment, and dissertation completion enrollment (DCE).

    Regular Enrollment Status
    Degree-seeking students are considered to be in “regular” enrolled status within the defined program length. Regularly enrolled students must be in residence – which means regularly present on campus a majority of days per week.

    Dissertation Completion Enrollment (DCE) Status
    Once a Ph.D. student’s regular enrollment has expired, the student can apply for up to two years of enrollment under an extended status called “Dissertation Completion Enrollment” (DCE). DCE students’ enrollment requires full-time commitment to study and research to complete degree requirements.  DCE students may also be enrolled as in absentia students (pursuing their research away from Princeton).

    Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
    Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is an internship, practicum, or employment that is either required by the student’s degree program or taken for credit. These experiences must be directly related to the student’s major area of study and an integral part of an established curriculum. Approval from both an academic unit and the Davis IC is required before pursuing CPT.

    Optional Practical Training (OPT)
    Optional Practical Training (OPT) is defined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a practical work experience for students in valid F1 visa status that is directly related to the student’s degree program, commensurate with  degree level and is intended to enhance and supplement the formal, classroom education. These opportunities take place off-campus. Students can use OPT during their degree program (pre-completion OPT) or after graduation (post-completion OPT).

    Part-time Internship
    A paid off-campus employment opportunity requiring a work obligation of 10 hours or fewer per week.  Part-time employment opportunities requiring a work obligation greater than 10 hours per week are prohibited by the Graduate School.

    Full-time Internship
    A paid off-campus employment opportunity requiring a work obligation of 20 hours or more per week.

    Assistantship in Instruction (AI)
    Assistantships in Instruction are teaching assignments awarded to graduate students by the academic departments and programs. Graduate students serving in these roles are referred to as Assistants in Instruction, or AIs.

    Remunerative Activities
    Activities that provide financial compensation for work or services.

    In Absentia Enrollment Status
    Degree-seeking Ph.D. students who are pursuing degree-related research but not in residence for greater than half the term should apply for in absentia status. Normally, in absentia status is granted only to Ph.D. students who have successfully completed the general examination.

    Princeton Funding
    Graduate students may receive assistantship and fellowship financial support from a variety of Princeton University sources including, but not limited to: University general funds, Graduate School, academic department and program funds, faculty funds, sponsored research grants and campus partner office funds.

    External Fellowships
    External fellowships are awarded on a competitive or merit basis by non-university entities and are sponsored by both public and private agencies. They typically consist of a tuition component and/or a stipend component. The funds may be paid directly to the student or to the University to be administered on behalf of the student. External fellowship awards vary considerably in terms of amount, duration and restrictions.

  4. Policy

    Graduate study at Princeton, at both the doctoral and the master’s level, requires full-time commitment by students to their academic research and degree progress. Accordingly, the Graduate School considers participation in additional activities beyond this full-time commitment to be incompatible with graduate study.

    However, enrolled graduate students in regular enrollment status or dissertation completion enrollment status are occasionally presented with opportunities to conduct internships that are related to their field of study and will both inform their academic research and degree progress and forward their professional pursuits. Internships are paid off-campus employment opportunities requiring a part-time work obligation of 10 hours or fewer per week or a full-time work obligation of 20 hours or more per week, which aligns with the University’s determination that a full-time assistantship correlates to a work obligation of 20 hours per week.

    Approved internships must meet the following criteria:

    The internship cannot inhibit progress toward degree;

    The internship must be directly related to the student’s field of study and/or tied to degree progress;

    The funding for the internship must come from an outside entity, such as a corporation, research institute, or another academic institution;

    The internship must adhere to the Graduate Student Employment Policy; and

    The student must confirm enrollment in the appropriate status before participating in an internship.   

    Conditions for International Students
    International students may accept internships that align with this policy, provided these students have appropriate work authorization from the Davis International Center (for example, in the case of employment associated with CPT courses or academic training), the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS, in the case of OPT eligible employment), or the J-1 program sponsor. International students may have additional limitations on internships based on visa requirements. All international students are encouraged to discuss their opportunity with their international adviser before accepting the position.

    Part-time Internship Participation
    Academic Implications of Part-time Internships on Enrollment
    Graduate students may accept part-time internships up to 10 hours per week on average during the Academic Year or Summer while maintaining full-time enrollment. Students are required to submit an internship request through TigerHub for all part-time internship opportunities and must have approval from the adviser, the department, and the Graduate School before the opportunity begins.

    Financial Implications of Part-time Internships on Funding
    Provided the part-time internship adheres to the Graduate Student Employment Policy, graduate students may accept part-time internships during the Academic Year or Summer while maintaining their University funding. However, graduate students receiving Princeton funding or external fellowship funding which prohibits participation in remunerative activities may not participate in part-time paid internships.

    Full-time Internship Participation
    Academic Implications of Full-time Internships on Enrollment
    Academic Year
    Graduate students are expected to be devoted full-time to their academic research and degree progress through their period of enrollment. Only post-generals Ph.D. students are eligible to participate in full-time internships during the academic year. Full-time internships during the academic year must be directly related to the student's dissertation research and degree progress, and work associated with the internship must appear as part of the dissertation. The student must be in the appropriate enrollment status during the period of the internship. If the student will be maintaining an active presence on campus during the internship period the student must remain in regular enrollment. If the duration of the off-campus internship is greater than half of the term and the student will not be in Princeton or the immediate vicinity, the student must request in absentia enrollment status and submit an in absentia request form.

    Full-time internships during the summer months must be related to the student's field of study.  All doctoral, including pre-generals graduate students, and master’s students may accept full-time summer internships occurring May through August. Students who are enrolled in courses or serving as Assistants in Instruction should not begin internships before the end of all course responsibilities, most often the end of the spring examination period, and must return before fall semester teaching duties commence. In all other cases, students may not begin summer internships until May 1 and may not hold summer internships beyond August 31. Departments may set their own start and return dates, provided they fall within the May - August window. Students requiring summer CPT should consult with the Davis International Center to ensure the internship dates fall within allowable ranges.

    Financial Implications of Full-time Internships on Princeton Funding
    Financial Expectations

    Graduate students conducting internships where they are conducting work should receive compensation for their efforts.
    Requirements for Recipients of Princeton Funding
    Graduate students must not accept full-time paid internships if they are supported by Princeton funding that prohibits participation in remunerative activities. Honorific fellowships awarded by the Graduate School are examples of Princeton funding prohibiting participation in paid internships. Graduate students who hold Assistant in Instruction (AI) positions may not participate in a full-time internship until classes have ended and all AI responsibilities have been fulfilled, most often the end of the spring examination period.

    Coordination and Treatment of Princeton Funding During the Internship Period
    Financial support from a full-time internship will impact a student’s financial support from Princeton.  Students forfeit stipend from university fellowships and/or salary from assistantships while engaged in the internship. Typically, students participating in full-time internships receive salary from their employers at a rate which meets or exceeds their student stipend. In cases where the internship salary is less than the university stipend rate, a department or an adviser may provide funding to supplement the internship salary up to the student’s base Princeton stipend rate. Students are encouraged to discuss with their departments and advisers any such supplemental funding. Departments or advisers should be careful to adhere to the Graduate Student Employment Policy and/or visa restrictions if supplementing internship salary with any assistantship salary, as both are considered work. Graduate students on full-time internship during the 10-month academic year still incur tuition and student health plan charges. If the internship employer does not provide tuition and student health plan funding, students who are in regular enrollment receive that support based on their divisional funding model. In the humanities and social sciences divisions, tuition and student health plan support continues to be provided through university fellowship. In the natural sciences and engineering divisions, that support must be provided by the adviser or department.

    Master’s and DCE students who do not receive tuition and student health plan support from Princeton continue to be responsible for those charges during the internship period.

    Financial Implications of Full-time Internship Participation on External Funding
    Requirements for External Funding Recipients

    A graduate student recipient of an external fellowship award should provide documentation from the fellowship sponsor confirming eligibility to participate in an internship. The student must also request documentation from the sponsor providing guidance on the treatment of external fellowship funding during the internship period.

    Coordination and Treatment of External Funding During the Internship Period
    The Graduate School supports and upholds an external sponsor’s guidance regarding the eligibility to participate in internship activities and the retention, restriction, or treatment of financial support during the internship period.

    In cases where the external sponsor provides no guidance regarding internship participation or the treatment of external fellowship support or where the external sponsor yields to the Graduate School policy, then standard funding coordination rules would apply.

  5. Procedures

    Ph.D. and Master's students with opportunities that meet the criteria defined above must submit an External Opportunity application through TigerHub. For internship periods which span across multiple terms, students must submit a separate application for each term. Students who must request a change to in absentia status during the internship period must submit an in absentia request through TigerHub before the internship period begins.

  6. Related Documents/Pages/Forms (if applicable)

    All students are required to submit a copy of their internship offer letter as part of the External Opportunity application. As part of the application, students supported by an external fellowship are required to submit documentation from the sponsor confirming their eligibility to participate in an internship and the treatment of external funds during the internship period. All required external sponsor documentation must be submitted as part of the External Opportunity application. International students should review the Davis International Center website for information on any additional required documentation..

  7. Roles and Responsibilities

    Dean of the Graduate School
    Oversees Graduate School policies and associated procedures.

    Academic Affairs
    Administers changes in student enrollment status.

    Finance and Administration
    Administers funding policies associated with student status.

    Davis International Center
    Oversees visa regulation and work authorization for international students.

    Graduate Student
    Responsible for completing and submitting necessary paperwork for requesting internship participation.